This paper presents a laboratory study of modified bitumen containing styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) copolymer. Polymer modified bitumen (PMB) samples have been produced by mixing a 50/70 penetration grade unmodified (base) bitumen with SBS Kraton D1101 copolymer at five different polymer contents. The fundamental characteristics of the SBS PMB samples have been determined using conventional methods. The morphology of the samples as well as the percent area (%) distribution of SBS polymers throughout the base bitumen have been characterized and determined by means of fluorescence microscopy and Qwin Plus image analysis program, respectively. The mechanical properties of the hot-mix asphalt (HMA) containing SBS PMBs have also been analyzed and compared with HMA incorporating base bitumen. The effect of polymer addition on the short and long term aging characteristics of HMA have been evaluated by indirect tensile strength (ITS) test. The results indicated that polymer modification improved the conventional properties (penetration, softening point, etc.) and the mechanical properties (Marshall, ITS, etc.) of the base bitumen. It was also concluded that at low polymer contents, the samples revealed the existence of dispersed polymer particles in a continuous bitumen phase, whereas at high polymer contents a continuous polymer phase has been observed. Moreover, it was found out that the polymer addition minimizes the short and long term aging of HMA. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.